My sister-in-law loves her job, and it shows. Erica is a lively waitress at the Trapper Creek Lodge & Supper Club in Shell, Wyoming. For my Father-in-law's 65th birthday (Happy Birthday, Dad) we made the drive to the foot of the Big Horn Mountains (and one of the lovelier areas of this part of the state) to make our reservation and to meet Chef Robb Howe. Erica has been working for Robb for several years, beginning at Robb's restaurant, the Wagon Wheel, which sadly burned down a few years ago. Robb now cooks at Trapper Creek, and I was so happy to see (and taste) that his recipes made the move with him. So much so, that I only took a picture of the appetizers, and forgot the camera for the rest of the meal. As it probably should be. I also had my camera on action setting from Jacob's game, so the pics are a little blurry. Maybe we should have moved around more.
We were so full. We shared these mouth-watering Sirloin Tips on Toast with Horseradish Cream, and herbed Boursin cream cheese on "Crackers", toasted thin slices of garlic baguette, practically soaked in butter. YUM. Our salads were all topped with Robb's famous Roasted Red Pepper Ranch. He roasts and purees all those peppers by himself. The dressing is mellow and smoky and zingy. Then our orders came. I had the pork tenderloin pasta with garlic cream sauce and mushrooms... heaven. The popular choice was chicken fried steak, but Mom had the citrus grilled chicken pasta, Dad had the prime rib (1 1/2" thick) and Erica had the sun-dried tomato chicken. Somewhere along the lines, we were getting pretty silly, as is the Jensen family tradition, and Doug mentioned "Dust in the Wind" and John Denver... which struck me as a little off, and I laughed... wait, John Denver doesn't sing Dust in the Wind... who was it? The Eagles or somebody... Brandon said (of course he knew... he's a walking jukebox... or itunes... or whatever) it was Kansas. Kansas, of course. And I couldn't stop giggling because I was picturing John Denver playing his guitar on the side of a mountain singing the forlorn "All we are is dust in the wind..." with a bowl of Grapenuts, surrounded by Muppets. Okay, I'm giggling again. But back to the meal... We topped it off with a cool mug (literally) of whipped-cream-topped chocolate mousse. A few of us had the Kahlua Cheesecake. Brandon's dad is also a Bishop, and after he ordered the cheesecake, announced. "Wait a minute... isn't that rum?" then proceeded to demolish his dessert faster than any of us. It was his birthday after all, and it wasn't really rum. Right? Becca gave up half-way through hers, and Josh graciously finished it for her. Doug and Erica were smart and shared. Brandon and I savored the mousse, barely finishing our mugs, and Mom sent hers around for any interested crazy people with absolutely no more room for dessert.
We thanked Chef Robb, and he wondered why we didn't order the seared scallops, which are a favorite of mine. I didn't order them because capers are not a favorite of mine. I didn't tell him that.
It was a wonderful meal in a beautiful setting, with great, happy people who can make me laugh really hard... the kind you feel in your stomach muscles.
On the way home, Brandon plugged his itouch into the stereo and pulled up... you guessed it... Dust in the Wind, by Kansas.
Chelsea wants to go to Trapper Creek for her birthday next month. Fine by me. Maybe I'll try the scallops.